by Dan Rafter
Drive about 100 miles north of Milwaukee, and you’ll come to Appleton. What you’ll see there? Plenty of new construction.
Just ask Sam Statz, director of construction services with Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction.
Statz says that the Appleton region – the home of Hoffman – has been keeping him and his fellow workers busy, especially when it comes to health and wellness projects.
“To be forthright, it’s not just Appleton, of course,” Statz said. “The nation as a whole has been seeing construction activity increase. The amount of activity that is going on now across the Midwest is impressive. And Appleton is no exception.”
But Appleton has seen more than its share of new construction. Statz points to several reasons: Interest rates are still low, making it affordable to borrow money. Developers are eager to build now before these rates eventually rise.
There’s also a great demand in this region for new industrial and healthcare facilities. Many projects had been put off during the economic slowdown. Now that the economy is firmly in recovery mode, these held-back projects are finally moving forward.
Then there’s the strong workforce that exists in Northeast Wisconsin.
“Maybe I am biased because I’m from this area, but we have a great work ethic here,” Statz said. “Manufacturers recognize this. They want to tap into this workforce and build here.”
How busy is Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction these days? Statz cites several projects that the company is now working on.
There’s the Bemis Company project, a $25 million expansion of that country’s healthcare packaging operations in nearby Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
The 160,000-square-foot project includes the renovation of two existing facilities and the construction of a 107,000-square-foot warehouse addition. When complete, the project will double the size of Bemis’ current healthcare packaging operations in Oshkosh.
Hoffman is also working on a project for Woodside Senior Communities. This two-phase project includes the design and construction of a new 20-unit memory-care assisted-living facility and the addition of a rehabilitation center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This project has a $15 million price tag.
The company is busy, too, outside of the Northeast Wisconsin area. Hoffman is currently providing construction-management services at Lutheran Life Communities’ Luther Oaks campus in Bloomington, Illinois. The $6.4 million project includes an 18-bed facility to serve residents who need long-term skilled nursing, short-term Medicare/rehabilitation services and memory care support services.
The project also includes a 1,600-square-foot expansion of Luther Oaks’ independent-living dining hall, along with major renovations to the existing culinary services operations.
What brings new companies to the Appleton area and Northeast Wisconsin? Statz said that the region has a low cost of living but a high quality of life. Highway-41 recently became an official interstate, and the region boasts plenty of quality infrastructure.
“This is a small-town community, but we can drive two hours to get anywhere in Wisconsin,” Statz said. “There is a great connectivity here for businesses. There are a lot of good companies now in this area. A lot of companies have set their roots here construction-wise because it is such a great area. They can put their roots down here and then serve the entire nation.”